Le Fanu’s Short Stories – Madam Crowl’s Ghost and In a Glass Darkly

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Sheridan Le Fanu – Madam Crowl’s Ghost & Other Stories / In A Glass Darkly
Wordsworth Editions – 2006 and 2008

Here are two collections of short stories from one of my favourite writers. I would recommend the Oxford edition of In A Glass Darkly, as that one contains nice notes at the back. Wordsworth editions are bare bones and rarely contain annotation. They are cheap however, and I own quite a few of them.

In A Glass Darkly is the better of the two collections. It’s been a few years since I read it, but I distinctly remember the joy I felt when the evil monkey appeared the first story. It’s also great because it contains lesbian vampires in a vampire story that predates Dracula. I think my favourite story in here is the novella: The Room in Le Dragon Volant. It’s not as spooky as the others, but I really like Le Fanu’s writing

Madam Crowl’s Ghost is a nice collection of ghost stories compiled by none other than M.R James. I read this one more recently, but I read the first two stories on a transatlantic flight and didn’t end up enjoying them as much as I would have were I to read them on the couch at midnight with a cup of peppermint tea. The stories in here are collected from different sources, and the quality and tone varies quite a bit. Some are great though, and most of them are set in Ireland. You can imagine my sheer delight on finding a story in here about a man from my hometown who shares my name. I loved this book, but the other collection is probably a better place to start if you haven’t read Le Fanu before.

2 thoughts on “Le Fanu’s Short Stories – Madam Crowl’s Ghost and In a Glass Darkly

  1. I just read In A Glass Darkly (well, still got one or two stories to go). I feel like there’s a great contrast of a delirious, irrational undercurrent and the mostly very reserved prose style (and the pronouncements of the police or physicians who stand for authority and science). Le Dragon Volant has gone straight into my top European macabre stories… can’t go wrong with secret passages, mirrors, masks and coffins. Great feel for the atmospherics of space whether rooms or empty streets. And a bit of sexuality (even just in the plotting) that say Lovecraft or M.R. James totally lack. I’ll have to check out Uncle Silas and Madam Crowl’s ghost!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, it’s been so long since I read that collection that I can’t really remember much apart from the monkey! Ive had another few of his novels on my shelf for the last 5 years, but I’ve been putting them off.


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